If you‘re a marketer who does a lot of writing, you’ve probably heard about writers, bloggers, and other creators using tools like ChatGPT to streamline the writing process.
However, if you‘re a skeptical writer like me, you’re probably a little wary of using AI to craft your content.
You might think: “Can this tool write well? Will it capture the correct voice and tone I want? Is it accurate? How can I use it?”
Fortunately, you don‘t need to wonder anymore. I tried using ChatGPT to write a blog post, and I will share my experience and let you know if it’s worth trying out.
Fun fact: This is my first time using ChatGPT in this way, too, so we’re learning together!
Using ChatGPT to Generate Ideas
Every blog post starts with an idea, so why not see if ChatGPT can generate a few for inspiration? After logging into the free version of ChatGPT, I was taken to the main chat page.
After typing my request into the chat (“Give me ideas for a blog post about cats”), ChatGPT generated 15 blog ideas and headlines. The first five are below.
Not bad, but let‘s take things a step further. Here’s ChatGPT’s response to my second request, “Give me ideas for a blog post about cat statistics.”
Overall, I like the ideas ChatGPT generated. I especially appreciated that ChatGPT included headlines with its ideas and suggested how to approach the topic.
For example, ChatGPT suggested I approach the topic of cat breeds by providing a list of the most popular cat breeds based on registration statistics from breed organizations.
I prefer ideas involving statistics, so I go with ChatGPT‘s fifth suggestion: “The Economics of Cat Care: How Does it Cost to Raise a Cat?” Now that I know the topic I want to pursue, I’m ready to create an outline.
Pro Tip: It helps to be as specific as possible in your requests. Notice when I mentioned wanting to write a blog post about cat statistics, ChatGPT gave more nuanced answers. This is a pattern you’ll see throughout the article.
Using ChatGPT to Generate a Blog Outline
First, I told ChatGPT to generate a blog outline based on “The Economics of Cat Care: How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Cat?” This is the chatbot’s response.
Below is an excerpt of the outline:
A. Anecdotal story or intriguing cat fact
B. Importance of understanding the costs of cat ownership
C. Overview of what the blog post will cover
II. Initial Costs
A. Adoption or purchase fees
B. Essential supplies and equipment
- Litter box and litter
- Food and water dishes
- Cat food
- Cat carrier
- Bed or scratching post
C. Initial veterinary expenses
- Health check-up”
ChatGPT also provided the following short paragraph describing the breakdown of the outline:
“This outline provides a structured framework to explore the financial aspects of cat ownership, from initial costs to ongoing expenses and unexpected situations, while also offering readers valuable tips for managing the financial aspects of raising a cat.”
The outline is all right; it separates different aspects of the cost of cat ownership into sections like initial costs, ongoing expenses, and more.
However, I want something closer to my outlining style, which includes headings and subheadings. So, I typed in another prompt, asking ChatGPT to generate another blog outline and include subheadings.
This is what ChatGPT generated:
I prefer this outline because it’s more comprehensive than the previous one and has subheadings that are specific, short, and straight to the point. ChaptGPT also gives a good breakdown of the kind of content to include under each subheading.
Here’s an excerpt of the chatbot-generated outline:
A. Why Understanding the Cost of Cat Ownership Matters
B. The Joy and Responsibilities of Cat Ownership
C. Overview of What This Blog Post Will Cover
II. Initial Costs
A. Adoption or Purchase Fees
B. Essential Supplies and Equipment
- Litter Box and Litter
- Food and Water Dishes
- Cat Food
- Cat Carrier
- Bed or Scratching Post”
The second outline will be the foundation of the blog’s final draft.
Pro Tip: Every writer has their own way of planning and outlining their work. Before asking ChatGPT to generate an outline think about how you prefer your outlines and specify your preference in your request.
Using ChatGPT to Write a Blog Post
This is where things got tricky for me. I submitted two prompts to ChatGPT to write the blog post and compared the results. My first prompt asks ChatGPT to generate a blog post based on the second outline.
I also direct ChatGPT to keep the post to 800 words and to use an upbeat, friendly, and conversational tone.
The first paragraph of ChatGPT’s post is almost exactly what I wanted:
“Hello, fellow cat enthusiasts! If you‘ve ever wondered about the true cost of having a furry feline friend by your side, you’re in the right place. Cats are wonderful companions, but they do come with financial responsibilities.
Today, we‘ll dive into the economics of cat care and break down the costs associated with raising a cat. Don’t worry; we’ve got plenty of tips to help you budget and ensure your kitty gets the best care without breaking the bank.”
However, the rest of the blog post still reads more like an outline. See the screenshot below.
Notice the post is mainly numbered and bulleted. I then submitted another prompt asking the same thing, but I omitted any mention of the word “outline.”
ChatGPT’s opening paragraph was similar to the first:
“Hey there, fellow cat lovers! If you‘re reading this, chances are you’ve either got a kitty curled up in your lap or you’re seriously considering adopting one of these adorable furballs.
Cats bring so much joy into our lives, but they also come with responsibilities, including the financial kind.
So, let’s talk about the economics of cat care. How much does it really cost to raise a cat, and how can you make sure your feline friend gets the royal treatment without breaking the bank?”
Once again, I like the opener because it captures my desired tone. However, the rest of the draft still reads like an outline.
I tried regenerating the draft a few times but still got similar results that were bulleted and numbered like an outline.
Pro Tip: Specify the style, tone, and purpose of your article when requesting a draft from ChatGPT. Again, the more specific you are in your prompts, the easier it is for the AI to generate your desired outcome.
While I can see how ChatGPT can save writers time, the chatbot is not my preferred method of generating blog posts.
As I mentioned, the opening paragraphs aligned with my vision, but the rest of the content was too bulleted to read like a conversational blog post.
That said, I can undoubtedly see ChatGPT as a valuable tool for planning, such as topic ideation and outlining.
Citing Sources with ChatGPT
Furthermore, if you often have to cite sources in your work, you may encounter a hiccup using ChatGPT. I asked the AI tool to cite its sources when generating drafts.
The first time I asked it to cite a source, ChatGPT said it could not and generated the following response:
“I apologize for any inconvenience, but I cannot provide specific sources or citations for the information in the blog post as my responses are generated based on a mixture of licensed data, data created by human trainers, and publicly available data.
The information in the blog post is a general overview of the costs associated with owning a cat, and the figures provided are based on common knowledge and general estimates up to my last knowledge update in September 2021.
For accurate and up-to-date information, I recommend consulting reputable sources such as pet care websites, veterinary organizations, and financial planning resources.
These sources can provide detailed information on the specific costs of cat ownership in your area and any changes that may have occurred since my last knowledge update.”
The second time I tried, the tool generated a blog post that included links to sources, but some references were outdated or led to dead links.
Update: Since writing this post, OpenAI announced ChatGPT would be able to browse the internet to give users “current and authoritative information” and links to sources.
This means ChatGPT will be able to include information from sources post-2021.
How I Would Use ChatGPT
I would use ChatGPT as an assistive tool to help me develop blog topics and generate outlines to organize my thoughts.
My concern is that I would spend too much time tweaking ChatGPT‘s drafts to my liking and that I’d be better off writing my own content based on its outlines.
Have you used ChatGPT to write content for you? What was your experience?